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Robert Nichols

Nearer

Nearer and ever nearer...
My body, tired but tense,
Hovers 'twixt vague pleasure
And tremulous confidence.

Arms to have and to use them
And a soul to be made
Worthy, if not worthy;
If afraid, unafraid.

To endure for a little,
To endure and have done:
Men I love about me,
Over me the sun!

And should at last suddenly
Fly the speeding death,
The four great quarters of heaven
Receive this littlle breath.

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To

Asleep within the deadest hour of night
And turning with the earth, I was aware
How suddenly the eastern curve was bright,
As when the sun arises from his lair.
But not the sun arose: It was thy hair
Shaken up heaven in tossing leagues of light.

Since then I know that neither night nor day
May I escape thee, O my heavenly hell!
Awake, in dreams, thou springest to waylay;
And should I dare to die, I know full well
Whose voice would mock me in the mourning bell,
Whose face would greet me in hell's fiery way.

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O Nightingale My Heart

O Nightingale my heart
How sad thou art!
How heavy is thy wing,
Desperately whirrëd that thy throat may fling
Song to the tingling silences remote!
Thine eye whose ruddy spark
Burned fiery of late,
How dead and dark!
Why so soon didst thou sing,
And with such turbulence of love and hate?

Learn that there is no singing yet can bring
The expected dawn more near;
And thou art spent already, though the night
Scarce has begun;
What voice, what eyes wilt thou have for the light
When the light shall appear,
And O what wings to bear thee t'ward the Sun?

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Evenstar

Evenstar, still evenstar
If this twilight thou dost shine
On a more unhappy head,
On tears lonelier than mine,
Vainer prayers and deepest sighs,
Take, sweet spirit, thou that art
Comforter of our despairs
All the prayers perforce unsaid,
All the sighs I cannot sigh,
All the tears I cannot shed;
Fill his eyes and flood his heart,
Who, my everlasting kin,
Broods, afar, unknown, apart.
Bring, ah bring him that surcease
From unsolaceable pain,
Which nor prayers, nor tears, nor sighs,
No, nor even the divine
Presence of thy eternal peace
Can, O evenstar, make mine.

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The Pilgrim

Put by the sun my joyful soul,
We are for darkness that is whole;

Put by the wine, now for long years
We must be thirsty with salt tears;

Put by the rose, bind thou instead
The fiercest thorns about thy head;

Put by the courteous tire, we need
But the poor pilgrim's blackest weed;

Put by — a'beit with tears — thy lute,
Sing but to God or else be mute.

Take leave of friends save such as dare
Thy love with Loneliness to share.

It is full tide. Put by regret.
Turn, turn away. Forget. Forget.

[...] Read more

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I must remember now

I must remember now how once I woke
To find the harsh lamplight stream upon her bed,
The ceiling tremble in its giddy smoke,
And on the wall the agile spider spread,
To hear the reverberate vault of silence shake
Beneath the hollow crash of midnight's toil,
Whose profound strokes waned impotent to break
The charnel stillness of the city's soul.
These I remember, but would more forget
What is most fixed, whereby I am undone,
How white, how still you lay, though shuddering yet
In the last luxury of oblivion,
As if of Death you had taken love long denied,
With on your face the bliss of suicide.

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The Stranger

Never am I so alone
As when I walk among the crowd —
Blurred masks of stern or grinning stone,
Unmeaning eyes and voices loud.

Gaze dares not encounter gaze,…
Humbled, I turn my head aside;
When suddenly there is a face…
Pale, subdued and grievous-eyed.

Ah, I know that visage meek,
Those trembling lips, the eyes that shine
But turn from that which they would seek
With an air piteous, divine!

There is not a line or scar,
Seal of a sorrow or disgrace,
But I know like sigils are
Burned in my heart and on my face.

[...] Read more

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The Nocturne: Address to the Sunset

Exquisite stillness! What serenities
Of earth and air! How bright atop the wall
The stonecrop’s fire and beyond the precipice
How huge, how hushed the primrose evenfall!
How softly, too, the white crane voyages
Yon honeyed height of warmth and silence,
whence
He can look down on islet, lake and shore
And crowding woods and voiceless promontories
Or, further gazing, view the magnificence
Of cloud- like mountains and of mountainous cloud
Or ghostly wrack below the horizon rim
Not even his eye has vantage to explore.
Now, spirit, find out wings and mount to him,
Wheel where he wheels, where he is soaring soar.
Hang where now he hangs in the planisphere -
Evening’s first star and golden as a bee
In the sun’s hair - for happiness is here!

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Address To The Sunset

Exquisite stillness! What serenities
Of earth and air! How bright atop the wall
The stonecrop’s fire and beyond the precipice
How huge, how hushed the primrose evenfall!
How softly, too, the white crane voyages
Yon honeyed height of warmth and silence,
whence
He can look down on islet, lake and shore
And crowding woods and voiceless promontories
Or, further gazing, view the magnificence
Of cloud- like mountains and of mountainous cloud
Or ghostly wrack below the horizon rim
Not even his eye has vantage to explore.
Now, spirit, find out wings and mount to him,
Wheel where he wheels, where he is soaring soar.
Hang where now he hangs in the planisphere -
Evening’s first star and golden as a bee
In the sun’s hair - for happiness is here!

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Fulfilment

Was there love once? I have forgotten her.
Was there grief once? Grief yet is mine.
Other loves I have, men rough, but men who stir
More grief, more joy, than love of thee and thine.

Faces cheerful, full of whimsical mirth,
Lined by the wind, burned by the sun;
Bodies enraptured by the abounding earth,
As whose children we are brethern: one.

And any moment may descend hot death
To shatter limbs! Pulp, tear, blast
Belovèd soldiers who love rough life and breath
Not less for dying faithful to the last.

O the fading eyes, the grimed face turned bony,
Oped mouth gushing, fallen head,
Lessening pressure of a hand, shrunk, clammed and stony!
O sudden spasm, release of the dead!

[...] Read more

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